The government adds an amount equivalent to the rate of inflation on every HELP debt annually (“I’ve paid $3000 of my student loan but I’m deeper in debt”, April 28). Imagine the outcry if banks started doing the same thing to mortgages. The only investment a nation can make in its future is the education of its young. We seem determined to make education a trickle-down Liberal concept where the rich (the government and the universities) win and the students lose – for the rest of their lives. Chris Rivers, Port Macquarie
It worries me a bit that those with a tertiary qualification and higher incomes than most are so concerned about a relatively small debt with effectively a concessional interest rate, compared with the impact on others of a large mortgage at commercial interest rates. Indeed, until their income reaches the threshold they have effectively received a free education. Of course, the Baby Boomers were very lucky to receive a totally free education. But that was clearly unsustainable from a budgetary perspective. And nobody wanted to go to the other extreme where education is individually funded using normal loans. The current system is a compromise. Effectively, it is a loan where interest is at the inflation rate which, except for periods like the present, is less than commercial interest rates, usually by quite a margin. So, it is concessional. And, as education boosts income, the loan only has to be repaid when the threshold is reached, consistent with the objective of education. David Rush, Lawson
I understand the reasoning behind the idea of HECS/HELP giving students from lower socio-economic backgrounds the opportunity to achieve a university education, and the later contributions they can make to society. However, they must realise it is a debt for life. There are alternatives to consider. For example, working for a year and then studying for a year (as many do in Canada), also, the possibility of employer fee payments in return for an exceptional work ethic, and then there is the possibility of scholarships. For many students, however, especially from rural and regional areas there is the additional problem of accommodation costs. Not easy, but consideration should be given to the impact later in life of a HECS/HELP debt. Students need to be financially wise before taking up any debt offers at such a young age and the future implications of what appears to be “the easy road”. I worked during term and all vacations to pay the university fees, but finished my degree debt-free back in the 1960s. Bruce Clydsdale, Bathurst
Enough to give King a coronary
It seems King Charles cannot win either way (“Minimise majesty? What a travesty”, April 28). He is mocked for his cut-down coronation makeover with its celebratory egalitarian quiche but would similarly cop heaps if, perchance, the dish was lobster thermidor with gold leaf trimmings. The whole thing is silly, as pomp and ceremony anywhere often is, but mocking the guy for trying to modernise an ancient tradition just seems churlish. Judy Hungerford, North Curl Curl
I, for one, admire King Charles’ considered changes to his role of monarch, from planting native meadows to prevent their extinction, to selecting a vegetarian quiche as his signature coronation dish and scaling down his ceremony. We need leaders keenly aware of the climate and economic crisis and willing to act. It’s sad we’re more readily persuaded by loud confident men with conviction, even when based on ignorance and prejudice, than someone of quiet, educated and patient disposition. Anne Matheson, Gordon
I’d be surprised if the King’s coronation deprives any interested onlooker of hours of “full fat formalities”. Dress-ups are common at church services, military parades, academic awards etc, so a big serving of spectacle for a coronation is a given. But the King scaling back his showpiece is hardly displaying “scant respect for his predecessors”. There’s only ever been one coronation that the public got to see anyway and that doesn’t add up to much of a tradition. I, for one, can do without individual knee-bending declarations of medieval fealty by a conga-line of sword-wielding dukes in ermine robes.And in these hard economic times, you can’t make up for a lack of bread with overblown froth at the circuses. Adrian Connelly, Springwood
Free for fall
A fall is not a fall (Letters, April 28) until you need ambos to get you off the floor, bless them. Richard Kirby, Campbelltown
My T-shirt originally said, “Don’t trust anybody over 30”. I then had to cross out “over” and put “under”. Then cross out “30″ and put “40” … and so on. It is now up to “70″. I hope to go on until I no longer trust anyone. Robert Hosking, Paddington
I’m surprised when people fall pregnant. It seems an unlikely outcome after a tumble. Vicky Marquis, Glebe
In my experience “taken a turn for the worse” is a euphemism for dead. Viv Mackenzie, Port Hacking
When my 99-year-old mother had her first fall, she adamantly denied she had fallen; she said she had merely “slid onto the floor”. She was fine. Lucia Bylhouwer, Darlinghurst
Falling over is a good way to work out if you are getting old. If strangers rush over to help then you are old. If they laugh at you, you are young. Bob Harris, Sawtell
Some of us have many ″falls″ in our lives, I fell in love, fell pregnant, fell from grace and fell apart, all before the age of 40. Thankfully, with the help of others, I was able to get up. To fall is human; to offer the hand that lifts the fallen is divine. Meredith Williams, Northmead
Lauded Powerhouse merits best treatment on heritage
The minister is right to call in the Ultimo Museum project report by heritage consultant Alan Croker (“Hidden report puts $500m project under a cloud”, April 27). The Powerhouse Museum was a Neville Wran-inspired bicentenary project, significant in itself. The opening in 1988 hugely revitalised public interest in things technological and Wran should be thanked and remembered for that. The project, rightly, won the 1988 Sir John Sulman medal for a state building of excellence, particularly noting the adaptation of an old power generator to an educational drawcard. This award is not made lightly and is not given every year. The Powerhouse was and is considered exceptional as a landmark standard for adaptive reuse. It is not understandable that the NSW Heritage Council considers the building was not of state heritage significance.
This needs a public explanation and let’s hope Arts Minister John Graham makes public all the information. Les Reedman, Cooranbong
In 2014, premier Mike Baird received and accepted advice that demolishing the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo and recreating it in Parramatta was a win-win scenario. On July 4, 2020, the government announced that the Powerhouse Museum would remain in Ultimo. This was greeted with great joy. It quickly turned into false hope.
A vast amount of money was allocated to convert the museum into something entirely different. Sham public consultations were conducted and as the election loomed, a frantic effort was made to make their plans non-reversible. This government must do what is in the best interest of the public and not allow past bad decisions and faceless bureaucrats to rule. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills
With public interest in the Powerhouse Museum (Letters, April 28), mention ought to be made of the heritage importance of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and its northern approaches at Milsons Point, the site of a proposed linear bike ramp, under consideration by the Heritage Council. I hope the new state government will take an interest and not write it off as a folly of the previous government. It is still possible, with enlightened leadership, to provide rideable step-free access without destroying the heritage features of the area. Ian Curdie, Lavender Bay
Got the remedy
As a GP, I welcome two-month prescribing (“MP pushes pharmacy lobbyist for Senate”, April 28). I want convenience for my patients and I want to have more appointments available for the acutely unwell. The Pharmacy Guild has a trail of self-interest behind it. It is also worth noting the conflict of interest present in those selling the drugs now wanting to prescribe more and more. I have a simple request for Mark Butler (and, yes, I have written to him and received the generic response letter): give our practice nurses a vaccination rebate. This is cost neutral and will free up countless GP appointments.
Many people want their vaccinations at their doctors’ but currently only GPs have a rebate to give them, even though our nurses are qualified and capable. It makes no sense to “expand pharmacy vaccinating” without expanding practice nurses’ roles too.
Lucy France, Cronulla
The report that wholesale energy prices have fallen (“Green energy surge cuts power costs along the eastern seaboard”, April 28) due to “record output from rooftop solar panels” and from the increase in wind and solar farms, squeezing coal- and gas-fired power out of the mix, makes a mockery of the Coalition’s decade-long obstruction to transitioning to renewables. Their shameless claims that only coal and gas would provide cheaper power put us a decade behind and deliberately turned clean, cheap energy into a political issue (to the Coalition’s detriment). The next step should be for our state and federal governments to withdraw the $11.6 billion of annual taxpayer subsidies (2021-22 figures) to the fossil fuel industries and use it instead for any of the countless cash-strapped areas crying out for more funding. Alan Marel, North Curl Curl
Home away from home
Has anyone thought about why holidaymakers like the same sort of accommodation that long-term renters do? (“Holiday rentals ’should be limited‴, April 28). Just because a couple or a family are holidaying away from home doesn’t mean they want to spend time in a boxy hotel room with no cooking or washing facilities, and often only one comfortable chair in a double occupancy room. Windows that open and space outside to sit are also important. Build more appropriate holiday accommodation, starting with the popular tourist destinations, and everyone wins. Sharon Warner, North Turramurra
Let the fun guys take over
After reading about the power and mystery of the seemingly humble fungus (″Won’t you take me to, fungi town″, April 28), it seems to me more apparent than ever that these amazing, mostly hidden organisms are on track to take over the world. About time, too. We have thoroughly stuffed it up, so time for another species to have a go.
Judy Finch, Taree
To the many who suffer from a fear of flying, add those afflicted with terminal terror (“Shakes on a plane: Even pilots can be scared of flying”, April 28). Given the stress of flight cancellations, baggage mishandling and queue chaos, passengers may be reaching for the sick bag well before they attempt to find space for their bloated carry-on. Despite this, I’m in it for the long haul. Janet Argall, Dulwich Hill
Black Stump Airport (Letters, April 28) covers every contingency. David Sayers, Gwandalan
Justice for Folbigg
The inquiry chief is not only an eminent King’s Counsel (“Evidence of natural causes in Folbigg cases: inquiry chief”, April 28), but a former judge of the NSW Supreme Court, and its chief justice no less. Enough said. Free Kathleen Folbigg forthwith – for basic human decency. Edward Loong, Milsons Point
With the rapid progress of scientific knowledge, a large group of eminent international scientists has concluded that the Folbigg children likely died of natural causes linked to a genetic abnormality. Surely, it is reasonable and common sense that the legal system takes a considered approach and places reliance on the expertise of scientists?
Steve Ngeow, Chatswood
I have never been called to do jury service, which is probably a good thing because the clause “reasonable doubt” resonates with me. Unless faced with irrefutable truth, there would always be an irritating niggling voice in my head. If there is reasonable doubt concerning the conviction of Kathleen Folbigg, the law says she must go free. No ifs or buts. To think of an innocent woman incarcerated for 20 years with the label “child killer” is intolerable in a compassionate and supposedly law-abiding society. Genevieve Milton, Dulwich Hill
The big discussions this week were housing, after the ’s series, public transport, after the ’s revelation of $5 billion worth of contracts signed just before the state election, and the death of Barry Humphries after a lifetime of entertainment.
Letter writers were, as always, more than ready to help the state and federal governments solve the housing crisis. All sorts of suggestions came in, with a general agreement that taxation should be reformed so housing goes back to being a necessity, not a method of wealth generation for only a few.
Public transport continues to be a thorn in the side of writers, sick of waiting at bus stops, in particular, for vehicles that don’t arrive on time, or at all. Strong was their fury and none was their sympathy at the news that the Coalition government signed long-term contracts for privitisation before folding its tents and departing, no doubt in government limos with drivers, never again to set foot on public conveyances.
The lack of sympathy extended to pharmacists crying poor about plans to extend prescriptions to 60 days. Most writers heartily approve of the plan.
The reaction to Barry Humphries’ death can be seen online in Yours.Sincerely. It was heartfelt and mostly in praise and gratitude.
Other topics this week included what to name Sydney’s new airport – the Dame Edna Everage has support – the fine line between ″falling″ and ″having a fall″, at what age death stops coming ″too young″, and the joys of marmalade, with the news that a jar of Australian marmalade is being given to King Charles as a coronation present.
Harriet Veitch, acting letters editor
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